[Buddha-l] One Buddhist's perspective on Zionism

Eric Nelson esnels at gmail.com
Fri May 20 09:20:06 MDT 2005

Dear Dan and Richard,
one of the problems in this discussion is the ideological hardening of
the word Zionism. The word has taken on multiple meanings. It means
(1) the affirmation and reality of a Jewish homeland; (2) it has
become identified with Jewish nationalism and current Israeli
practices and policies such as settlement; and (3) it is misused in
the antisemitic conspiracy theories influential in much of the world.
The reality and continuing popularity of antisemitism definitely shows
the need for the first, as Dan rightly argues. However, the second
remains an object of debate in Jewish communities and in Israel--such
that Zionism is not the only way to affirm Jewish identity or even a
Jewish state. Philosophers such as Levinas supported the state of
Israel while remaining critical of Zionism as a form of modernist
nationalism that is inadequate to the complexity and distinctness of
Jewish beliefs and practices. Although this debate is legitimate and
healthy, the fact that Zionism has become an antisemitic buzzword in
much of the world means that the word has to be used much more
carefully or perhaps not at all in discussing these issues.
Ironically, for example, the radical religious groups (radical in
wanting to expel Muslims and Christians and create a religious Jewish
state) that were presumably the target of Richard's original comments
themselves reject Zionism as secular nationalism. Best wishes, Eric

On 5/20/05, Dan Lusthaus <dlusthau at mailer.fsu.edu> wrote:
> Richard is to be commended for offering a clear statement on his admittedly
> hastily hobbled together thoughts on Zionism. After some cursory research he
> confirms the characterization of his position that he initially denied.

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